Bulb planting time and I am joined by a cute little robin. I had only recently learned why robins like to accompany you whilst gardening. Obviously I have just disturbed the top layer of soil and by doing so made all those tiny insects and worms available to feed on.
But where did this little chap learn that if it hung around with the humans maybe it’ll get a cheap dinner? In ancient times robins used to follow wild boars as they scavenged the top layer of ground for roots, fruits and maybe a truffle or two for tea. Robins learnt not to be afraid of these large animals and so grew confident with their company. Now don’t you go and compare me to a wild boar though my hair has been particularly ravaged on this gusty October day. You could say I’m sporting a wild look, but that’s where it ends. I’m happy for my little robin to follow me about. It makes a funny little chirp and curious vibrating flutter when it’s about to join me. I don’t hesitate to talk to it either. That’s not because of modern folklore’s theory that it’s a dead relative visiting. It’s a robin wanting a good old feed before winter and I’m happy to oblige.
Oh leeks why for art thou ruined? The allium leaf miner is the culprit. It has munched its way through my lovely leeks! i done lots of research and basically I need to destroy the lot to break this little critters life cycle. plus in future not only do I need to cover brassicas and carrots in netting but now alliums too. This teeny little thug reached the UK in 2002 and has spread around the country at an alarming rate.
So how am I going to beat this pest?
So how am I going to beat this pest? This beastie appears in March and April having overwinter in the soil. The female flies lay eggs near the base of young leek plants and makes small punctures in the onion/leek leaves in order to feed on the sap. This is where further rot can get in too and so when I harvested my leeks I notice a brown trail where the grub had munched its way into the juicy fleshy bit. When I pulled off the outer layers a small dark rice-grain-sized brown pupae wedged was between the rotting layers.
Preventing the allium leaf miner from causing damage is to prevent the flies laying eggs. I’m going to cover the crop with insect proof mesh / fleece during the two risk periods that is March to April and mid September to mid October.
Or plant onion sets and leeks after the first danger period has passed and harvest before the second danger period occurs in September / October.
You may have noticed that Halloween has revved up a gear this year. Don’t be tempted to buy one of those fake pumpkins down the garden center, please buy a real one and carve it yourself. Its so much fun, really cheap and a chance to be creative. Plus when you’ve finished you can leave the pumpkin out for the wildlife to feed as squirrels love them. It doesnt stop there either you can plant one up with with plants for a dramatic effect and lastly they make good compost. So just do it!
A traditional design with freckles!
What a mess, but be sure to keep the seeds.
Biro cases were used for spikes on my pumpkin hedgehog
All together and they look fantastic.
So proud of my hogs.
Any pattern can be achieved with an apple corer and a drill
Its easy to add an ikea cupboard light
When they haven’t made the grade, plant them up. Funky hair-dos and crazy plants will last all November long.
Not everything in life is a bed of roses, so the saying goes, and so the day after the Chelsea Flower Show my step father died. It has been awful witnessing someone slowly be destroyed by Alzheimer’s and so things have been put on hold a little bit. I still had to work but suddenly I had also had a new set of carers to organize for my 91 year old Mum. It didn’t go well as I had to sack two. One for taking my mums bank card and PIN number, the other for allowing the carpet man swindle £240 cash from my vulnerable mum.
The responsibility has been overwhelming and took a toll on my health. But I managed to get though it and out the other side. My salvation is to loose myself in my gardening, it really is the best therapy. Things didn’t stop and I still have issues to solve but the garden soldiered on….
I did a bit of a revamp in a dull area of my jungle garden.
Then there wasn’t a shortage of cut flowers. Calendulas and zinnias performing brilliantly…..
Calendulas and erygium and curious wild unidentifed flower.
Veggies started to yield and often I was badly prepared for harvesting but nothing got wasted…
Ok, I did give away some of the cucumbers but the rest were eaten fresh or baked and frozen.
So strange times came and went. I’ve been sad and stressed by other things, my allotment kept me focused. Even though I had to force myself to go there I always ended up feeling proud and positive and darn right happy! 😀
It’s July and summer brought a heatwave then; rain & sun = lush! We have crops! We have loads of leafy growth everywhere but when its hot its hard to get the energy to tender the garden.
But I have a jungle which is cool….
Up at the lottie
Lots of crops are giving up their veggie delights. Mange tout Shiraz has been nice, though not that abundant. But easy to spot, always a bonus. Other peas have just disappeared altogether. but very please with rainbow chard that has self seeded from last year. Every evening I visit the plot for my dinner, little and often is the way I harvest.
Isn’t November beautiful! Fabulous colours and amazing berries. I picked some red and yellow ones from a Rowan tree and spent a fun half-hour arranging them in vases. My pink cosmos had its last picking and now the cold has just got too much for them. They have been an absolute delight, and have pride of place on the dresser.
Top of my list this month was to finish painting a mirror and install it on the wall above the patio table and chairs. It’s painted in a colour to match the kitchen and so as you look through the French doors, it looks like the kitchen is extended. It looks even better than I had imagined. The mirror reflects the sunlight wall opposite and bounces the light into this otherwise shaded area.
It is also fun having a display of the season on the table. My pumpkins weren’t that good to carve but look positively stunning used as planters. The orange meant a home for my continuing successful supply of ophiopogon black grass.
A visit to a garden center procured some Blue Cushion sedum. These coupled with Aloe Vera and other grey succulents (that have names that are impossible to pronounce) all make a lovely autumnal display.
Up at the allotment it is easy to get distracted as the neighbouring plot holder’s son still continues to play football. This drives me crazy, as the ball has landed on my veggie beds several times. Whenever I complain, however politely, he and his wife are so rude. This time he thought it really clever to move the goalposts to the other side but same distance from my plot. What do I do now? The problem with privately run allotments is that in this case, there are no formal rules. The plot manager says he’ll talks to these people over the winter. I shall keep my ranting to Facebook.
Successes abound with my broad beans germinating! How delightful and so encouraging to see new life in late autumn. Leeks are harvesting, and occasionally I’ll bring home a hitch hiker-snail that is highly amusing for the cat. Broccoli is still yielding and the evidence of Brussels sprouts nestling in their hiding places is so pleasing to see.
Refreshing pots. I needed to replace some plants on the rack be the front door and so pansies to match the purple door seemed proper. Plus the great thing about having a potting bench as its somewhere to put your entire garden center buys until I have a chance to plant them! Luxury.
A PERSONAL VIEW. I have read a lot about the benefits of gardening. It’s everywhere, on TV and all over the Internet. Oh yawn, not another over-blown rant about about the stress-busting properties that gardening gives us?
If it was so good everyone would be turning the central reservations of motorways into fabulous gardens. Oh, ye of little faith. I’m not a psychologist, I’m a gardener, and so I’ve put together my own view though my own experience. And by that I don’t mean just sitting in the garden drinking wine, I mean the actual toil.
Nurture and nourishment. It is a basic human characteristic to nurture. Us, our friends and family, our animals and our plants all love a bit of nurturing. Throw in spot of cherishing too. It isn’t all about just delivering food and water, or keeping things clean to ward off diseases. It is about observing, getting information back, a subtle exchange of what’s needed and how much.
I recently adopted a rescue cat and wanted to give her a home that she’ll thrive in. Immediately she was different. So I completely focused on her needs as I don’t speak cat and she doesn’t speak English. I somehow found out what she likes to eat, that she likes to drink from the tap, what sort of play she likes etc. It was all done by ‘feel’, observation and learning. She was checking me out too and somehow slotted into my routine and I hers.
I didn’t think about myself for a second while this was happening and I noticed that all the other problems melted away from my thoughts. Distraction therapy and it worked a treat. Same with gardening.
You get a lot out of nurturing and your brain plays tricks on you. I’m not kidding! When you are trudging up to the greenhouse in the pouring rain, you are not seeing the black plastic soil-filled cells for what they are today. You are seeing in your minds eye the future. The host of peppers or army of tomatoes is what you see. A picture of the future. So vivid, so captivating, so ravishing, you want it so badly this goal, this yearning for a successful crop. It’s a picture in your brain, it doesn’t actually exist. Now that is crazy. But its survival, its vision, its food and nourishment. You’ve blotted out the rainy present with the future. And no one, bye the way, has mentioned the past.
The future. A while ago I didn’t think I had a future. Unsuccessful relationships, a serious accident, countless surgeries, and redundancy left me thinking that I’ll just live for today. All those sayings running through my head until I crashed headlong into a bout of post traumatic depression.
During the recovery I rediscovered the ‘future’ thing. The ‘planning’ thing too. Future. Planning, and ‘looking-forward’. Nurturing and ‘growing’, resulting in ‘reward’ and ‘achievement’. One leading to another in a cycle, the cycle of time and of goals, an end goal. To plan and grow food to thrive, to be nourished, and healthy. All these things are there for not only your basic human survival, but go towards making you happy. There are a lot of boxes being ticked here.
Beauty and aesthetics.
We go on holidays to look at, experience and eat beautiful (and different) things. It makes us feel great looking at a lovely landscape and so you bring this to your own garden. You are on holiday in your own garden. And while you are creating a wonderful haven you are doing it in the ‘now’ and not stressing about something else. Don’t forget to explore your creativity too, fantastic.
Wonder of biology.
How did Mother Nature do that! That’s AMAZING! I didn’t really do it. I just watered it, evolution did it. But I chose to show it to you, in this setting, on this day, together with all these other plants that are complementing each other.
I chose to offer you a delight to your senses too. See those herbs, they smell good, taste good too. Touch the leaves, some are furry, some are glossy. Big, small and everything in between. Evolution made them that way, its incredible. While I’m watching I’m learning too, researching horticulture and exercising my brain. Looking up information in books and magazines and learningstuff.
Exercise and being outside.
Endorphins. You produced that when you exercised, that’s handy, what a bonus. The activity has helped your heart too and lowered the stress hormone cortisol. Then the benefits of vitamin D and B12. Read a brilliant blog below on vitamin depletion.
I remember commuting to work every day, walked to the station, head down, checking my phone. Sat in an air-conditioned office, surfed the Internet, drank coffee, breathed in fumes, pretty damn miserable. Then one day I forgot my phone. I looked at things, the people, and all the front gardens on my walk to the station. I noticed the season and the smell of early morning. I stood on the platform and looked up, all the way up to the sky. Nothing to block to the view, no office ceiling, or fluorescent lights, just endless, endless blue sky. I felt a sense that I was connecting to nature, and that I had missed out. I was standing on this little bit of the planet, albeit the station platform. I wasn’t having a religious moment, no, I’d seen the beauty of this little bit of planet just then, and wanted get involved with nature from then on.
So what have we learnt?
No fireworks here, no monumental revelations. For every moment you nurtured nature by feeding and seeing to its needs, you got a little bit of satisfaction. You have sown a seed and looked after it for a future. When you looked out onto your beautiful garden, your eyes smiled and you felt connected. By standing in your outdoor space, the space that you looked after, you own that. You might not have physically purchased the ground, but you own that piece of time, and the space that you made yours for that moment. You stand on the planet, in that space making nature your garden.
There’s pride and achievement, nurturing and planning. Feeding your body and feeding your love of the aesthetics. You tolerated too. Pests and diseases, or the plant that just didn’t turn out right. And you didn’t blame them or anyone else, you accepted and delt with it.
But last of all you are surprised. Surprised at the wonder of nature, at yourself that you stuck at it. And no tantrums, no wobblers, no blaming anyone else, its just there and it made you a better person.
I love my garden